Mythology Mondays: Book Review Edition

Welcome back to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series.

Today (a day late), I want to do something completely different. Instead of talking about a Greek myth, I want to highlight another book by a fellow Texas author who writes fiction based on Greek Mythology.

The Loves of Olympus series, by Sasha Summers, is a wonderful re-imagining of some of the Greek myths we know and love. The first book in the series, Medusa: A Love Story is free now on kindle and the other two in the series, which I have not read yet, are both priced for binging.

medusa summer

If you are at all familiar with Medusa or if you read my mythology post on Medusa a while back, you know that Medusa’s story, no matter how spun, will be tragic. Summers expertly weaves the tragedy together with a beautiful story that ends with an HEA both touching and fitting for her couple.

Summers perfectly nails the personalities of the gods who seek to control the world according to their own narcissistic wants. The havoc they wreck with power that goes unchecked is the force that drives much of the book. How mere mortals deal with the power wielded their way is what makes this story compelling and will keep you turning until the very end.

I recommend this book to anyone who had enjoys the Turning Creek series, a little mythology, and a powerful romance. Spring Break is coming up, perfect time to get a new book and read the day away.

Here is the blurb:

It’s said love
can change a person. Medusa wasn’t always a monster…

Medusa is ruled by duty, to her Titan father and the Goddess Athena. She’s no room for the tenderness her warrior guard, Ariston, stirs. When Olympus frees her from service, her heart leads her into the arms of the guard she loves… and curses her as the creature with serpent locks.

Ariston goes to war with a full heart… and dreadful foreboding. He learns too late of the danger Medusa faces, alone, and a Persian blade sends him into the Underworld. But death, curses, nor the wrath of the Gods will keep him from returning to her.

Poseidon will use Greece’s war to get what he wants: Medusa. He does not care that she belongs to another. He does not care that she will be damned. He is a God, an Olympian, and she will be his. 

 

Mythology Mondays: Mount Olympus

Welcome back to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series.

Photo by stefg74.
Photo of Mytikas, the highest peak on Mount Olympus. Photo by stefg74.

Mount Olympus is an actual set of peaks in the Balkan range in Greece. Mount Olympus consists of 52 individual peaks, the highest of which is Mytikas (pictured above). Mytikas soars to 9, 573 feet, which may seam like small potatoes to Americans who claim many fourteeners, but Mytikas is the highest peak in Greece. It is a popular place for climbers and home to an impressive number of flora and fauna.

In Greek myths, Mount Olympus is the seat of Zeus and the home of the gods. Mytikas was said to be the exact location of the house of the gods which was topped by a bronze dome.

In the world of Turning Creek, the Greek gods did live on Mount Olympus, but their home was destroyed in the uprising led by the original four harpies. The following is an account of those early days, taken from my notes.*


Banished and forgotten on the islands of Strophades, the harpies nursed their bitterness and their appetite for revenge increased. There was very little to do on Strophades except plot the downfall of the cause of their imprisonment. The four harpies swore on the River Styx that they would see Zeus cast down from Mount Olympus and punished for the curses he had placed upon them.

It was not hard for the harpies to find others who had yearned for their own revenge on the Father of Olympus. Zeus had a nasty habit of granting power to others, only to be displeased at the threat he felt to his throne once those powers were wielded. Countless women lost their purity to Zeus and many of his children resented their birth. There were even whispers at the time that Hera, once loving wife to Zeus, had finally grown tired of her husband’s philandering and the growing ranks of bastards in her court.

By the time the rebellion took root, mortals had turned their eyes and their faith from the mountain of the gods. There were no supplicants to record the battles that came nor list the fallen. Few rallied to Zeus’s side and, in the end, those that did, lost all.

In the final battle, the harpies led the charge through the great throne room and tore the flesh from Zeus’s bones. With his last breath, he sent his spirit from his shredded body. It erupted from him in the shape of a thunder bolt and disappeared across the skies.

The harpies had extracted their revenge, but at a great cost. One of their own, Podarge, was killed by Ioke in their final charge. The four shields ran after the death of their master, but word of them cropped up now and then whenever the world found itself at war. Podarge’s body was entombed in Mount Olympus with the fallen of both sides and her line died.

Those left dispersed into the world, intermarried with mortals, and watched as their history became the stuff of legends and myths. With each passing generation, their powers weakened and they became Remnants of their ancestors’ greatness.

Every few generations, a story would surface of some adventurer seeking the lost bolt of Zeus, but it was never found. Few Remnants believed such a thing even existed. Other Remnants remembered the tales of Zeus’s cruelty, passed down to them like bedtime tales of the boogeyman, and they feared one day the stories would be true.


I am giving away a signed copy of Letters in the Snow (Turning Creek 3) and some fun writing things. The giveaway ends today!

 

*Please note that, as an author, I have taken great liberty with the original myths.

Letters in the Snow is Out Today

Break out the confetti, Letters in the Snow is live today.

Liz Lemon

Go buy yourself and all your friends a copy.

ebook: Amazon, Google PlayKobo, Nook
print: Amazon

I will be celebrating by taking the day off work, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and and reading things on the internet. Oh, and giving some stuff away.

0224161511 (2)

This book revolves around some key letters Iris receives from different people and we all know letters are vitally important to Iris. Thus, the giveaway includes: one signed copy of Letters in the Snow (because you all need one of those), a set of 36 door note cards (I adore pictures of doors), a set of 10 friendship note cards (because you all have some friends, right? maybe one?), 10 brightly colored pens for writing (who wants boring old black and blue?), 3 tiny composition books (for leaving in your bags and around the house for when genius strikes), and a notepad that says you are awesome (because you are). Iris would approve. Open to US and Canada only.

 

Mythology Mondays: Nemean Lion

Welcome back to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series.

A frequent trope in myths is the hero who is sent on a quest which has previously caused the gruesome deaths of other would-be adventurers. Nothing says, “I hope you fail,” like sending someone off to kill a monster that can’t be killed. Congratulations!

Enter Hercules and the Nemean Lion. Ya’ll know it’s going to end badly for the lion, but play along and be surprised at the end, okay?

A scene from the 2014 film, Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson.
A scene from the 2014 film, Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson.

The Oracles at Delphi command Hercules to perform Twelve Labors for King Eurystheus*, a man Hercules loathed, as penance for killing his family. We do not discuss that last bit very often. The hero Hercules, became a hero, in part, in his effort to make atonement for murdering his wife and two children. The Oracles told Hercules that at the end of his service to Eurystheus, he will be granted eternal life.

The Nemean Lion was so named because it lived in a cave in the valley of Nemea. The entire region was frightened of this beast who gorged itself on the flesh of man and beast alike, then would retreat to its cave at dusk. If you, like me, grew up watching nature documentaries on PBS, you are thinking that lions are nocturnal and this story is already ridiculous.

According to some sources, the lion would occasionally take the appearance of a maiden in distress and lure men to the cave where it lived. Once the men were deep enough in the cave, the woman would turn into the lion and eat the unsuspecting men.

The lion was the son of Echidna and Typhon, whom we have discussed before.

Hercules spied the lion moving slowly one afternoon after it had eaten. Hercules pulled an arrow from his quiver and let it fly. The arrow, much to his surprise, bounced harmlessly off the lion. Confused and frustrated, Hercules tried again with the same results. The lion saw him and jumped towards the hero. Hercules kept his wits and pulled out a large club. Before the lion’s jaws snapped closed, Hercules whacked the lion soundly over the head and the club broke in two.

Here is where the story has two different endings:

In some versions, Hercules wrestled the lion out in a field in the open where he found victory. In most versions, Hercules allowed the lion to retreat to its cave. Hercules blocked one entrance to the cave, leaving the lion with no alternative escape route. Hercules crept into the cave and squeezed the lion’s neck from behind to avoid its claws, strangling it to death.

After defeating the beast, Hercules realized he needs to skin the lion and remove its head to prove he had completed the task. In a fit of grotesque genius, he used the lion’s own claws to skin the body. The skin became his famous loin cape, part of his “I’m a bad ass hero suit.” Hercules took the head of the lion to Eurystheus, who was appalled even though this had indeed been the task he himself gave Hercules, and forbade the hero to bring his spoils into the city. Hercules then went about his next task, slaying the Lernaean Hydra.

In remembrance, Hera places the Nemean Lion among the stars as the constellation Leo.

The third book in the Turning Creek series, Letters in the Snow, comes out Thursday! You can pre-order it now: ebook – Amazon, Google PlayKobo

*Originally, it was ten labors but Eurystheus was angry that Hercules kept coming back alive.

 

Cover Reveal: Letters in the Snow (Turning Creek 3)

I am so pleased to finally be able to show you the cover for Iris’s story, Letters in the Snow. Alexandre Rito, who has done all the Turning Creek covers, did a beautiful job, again, on this one. I was concerned Iris’s wing would come out yellow on the cover, but Alexandre managed to make the wing look luminous in the snowy winter sky. I adore it.

The story takes place, appropriately, in February when spring still seems very far away. As suggested by the title, letters are integral to the plot. Many of my favorite books use letters as a plot device. Two of them stick out in my memory. Mr. Darcy writes that beautiful not really an apology letter to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Folie and Robert fall in love through letters in My Sweet Folly by Laura Kinsale.

Letters in the Snow officially launches February 25th. You can pre-order ebooks at these fine retailers:  Amazon, Google Play, and Kobo.

The week before it comes out, I will be giving away some free copies to my newsletter group. Sign up for a chance to win a copy before you can buy it.


Subscribe to my newsletter

 

So you want to see the cover?

 

 

Do you?

 

 

Are you sure?

 

 

Here you go!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00071]

 

Release Date: February 25, 2016

Pre-order ebook now on Amazon, Google Play, and Kobo.

Back Cover:
Iris is a simple postmistress in the small town of Turning Creek, Colorado. Simple, except for being a descendant of a Greek myth, having a pair of golden wings, and possessing the ability to speak prophecy. She has had her hands so full guiding the harpies towards their destinies that she has forgotten to seek out her own.

A mysterious letter from an anonymous admirer begins a correspondence that weaves itself into Iris’s heart and awakens a longing for a love of her own. The letters keep arriving, and Iris is increasingly more aware of the charms of Jacob Wells, a newcomer to Turning Creek. She wonders if the letters are from him. But even with Jacob’s charisma and the lure of a new relationship, Iris discovers the heart can’t be contained, and that her heart’s desire might be for someone who was there all along.

Unfortunately for Iris, the letters and the resulting affairs of the heart are not the only perplexing things happening in Turning Creek. Something more than nature is burying the town in a deadly winter blanket, and a closely guarded secret that will change Turning Creek forever is revealed.

Giveaway for Storm in the Mountains

In anticipation of Letters in the Snow coming out (release date to be announced with hoopla soon!) I am giving away some signed copies of Storm in the Mountains.

Marina Ocypete is a harpy, a Remnant of the Greek myth living in a small town in the Colorado Territory She would rather start a decent fight than sit around idle. The local sheriff offers her a job as a deputy which seems like a better choice than suffering from boredom, but Reed Brant has a way of getting under her skin.

With the influx of Remnants in his town, Reed needs Marina’s skills as a harpy to keep the peace. His head knows she is not the get married and settled down type he wants, but she might be just the thing his heart desires.

When women start disappearing in Turning Creek, it will be up to Marina and Reed to find the cause behind the fear gripping their town. Marina will have to choose between a fate she never questioned and the man who makes her believe even a harpy can have a heart.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Storm in the Mountains by Michelle Boule

Storm in the Mountains

by Michelle Boule

Giveaway ends February 08, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

I Met Kevin Hearne and Life is Very Good

 

Staked is the latest book in the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne and this copy is ALL MINE.
Staked is the latest book in the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne and this copy is ALL MINE.

I went to a local bookstore, the delightful Murder By the Book, last week to see an author I liked an awful lot. It was so fabulous, I left loving Kevin Hearne (but not in a weird creepy way) (I swear).

Kevin Hearne writes an absolutely wonderful fantasy set in modern day Arizona whose main character is a witty last-of-his-kind druid. The pages are filled with interesting villains, a hilarious side-kick dog, and side characters that refuse to leave their share of the lime light. The first book is Hounded and you really need to go read it right now. I have not read all the books in the series yet. Part of me does not want to binge through them, afraid I will forget to savor them as they should be savored, like a good beer at your favorite pub. Relax, enjoy these wonderful words.

I have followed Kevin Hearne online for awhile now. He is smart, funny, geeky, and supportive of his fellow writers online. He loves craft beer and is an English teacher when he is not writing, being a dad, husband, and person in the world. I can now attest he is the same in person as he is online to people. He was worth every minute of the hour through Houston traffic (save me) that it took me to get there. If you look at his Twitter feed, you can see all the pictures he posts of fans. It’s amazing. I love it.

He answered a ton of questions, told funny stories, and admitted his writing has a higher purpose. Namely, he thinks we should all be good humans and be nice for Pete’s sake. He was gracious and obviously appreciated the crazy people who turned out to talk to him for ten seconds and buy a book. Worth. Every. Moment and Penny.

This whole post is really a love letter to authors I love that I have fawned over online and in person. Thank you for being gracious when I act ridiculous when I meet you. Words are important to me. I love to write them. I adore reading ones I did not slave over. Thank you for being good humans online and in person. Thank you for writing characters I cry over, cheer for, and think about long after the book is over.

Yours truly,

A grateful consumer of words

 

Mythology Mondays: Satyr

Welcome back to Mythology Mondays, where I highlight a different Greek myth or an aspect of mythology that has influenced the Turning Creek series.

Honestly, when I set out to write this, even though I knew it was not accurate, this is what my mind thinks a satyr looks like:

Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Or perhaps like this:

Dancing fauns from Fantasia.
Dancing fauns from Fantasia.

What I tend to think of as satyrs are actually fauns. A much better example of a satyr would be this:

A saytr from the land of Narnia.
A saytr from the land of Narnia.

In true Greek mythology, satyrs were between a faun and the Narnia satyr above. In Greek mythology, satyrs were closely tied with Dionysus though they were also known to cavort with and serve Gaia, Rheia, Hermes, and Hephaestus. They were most often the companions of Dionysus, drinking and playing flutes or tambourines. The flute was their preferred instrument.

A Greek vase depicting a satyr with Dionysus.
A Greek vase depicting a satyr with Dionysus.

Satyrs had the head of a man, but had pug noses, donkey ears, donkey or horse hind legs, and a horse tail. Though their body was mostly hairless, they were almost always depicted with long dark hair and beards. If they wore clothes, they were made from animal skins with the fur still intact and wore laurels of vines or ivy on their brow. They were considered to be symbols of nature, life, and the harvest, and as such were often shown with large, erect members. *cough* If you do a Google image search for satyr quite a few interesting things come up. I would advise you not trying that one at work.

Satyrs often consorted (sexually) with the nymphs, maenads, and other bacchanals. By some accounts, they were adapt at every kind of sensual pleasure. Their main purpose seems to be to follow Dionysus around, drink, and pursue females of all kinds.

Their parentage is disputed. The most widely held belief is that the satyrs were the sons of Hermes and Iphthima or that they were descended from the Naiads. They were also claimed by Silen. Strabo wrote that they were sons of the five daughters of Hecataeus and the daughter of Phoroneus.

In Turning Creek, satyrs make an appearance at the end of Lightning in the Dark as not very welcome additions to a gathering.

Goodreads Giveaway for Lightning in the Dark

This giveaway ends tomorrow!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lightning in the Dark by Michelle Boule

Lightning in the Dark

by Michelle Boule

Giveaway ends January 24, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Books Read in 2015

Before I compiled the numbers, I was sure I was going to average less than a book a week. There were a couple months there I felt like I was not reading at all. Only two books a month?! Ridiculous. In a perfect world, I would just sit on the couch all day and read only getting up to make more tea or go write. Sounds fabulous.

Here are the numbers:

Total = 55
Least Read in a Month – 2 in March and November
Most Read in a Month– 7 in September

Favorite book of 2015: Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

I hate writing this category, sometimes because I read a ton of great books and I do not want to pick one and sometimes because not very many stood out. I read a lot of meh books this year and a lot of books whose covers I remember but the details are fuzzy. Song of Blood and Stone easily stood out from the crowd.

It is set in a world that is wonderfully created. There is a strong romance arc. Penelope uses this world to discuss some extremely timely social issues: injustice, slavery, where do exiles belong, who is an immigrant, what do people’s origins have to do with the person they are/become, bigotry, racism, economic inequality, and fear (especially of the Other). The words of this book are beautifully crafted, as are the characters and, while I appreciated the fantasy and world-building, I loved her light hand on some very heavy topics. Bonus, the main character is a WOC (woman of color).

Other books of note: The author I read the most from is Courtney Milan. There are six of her books on the list and they never, ever disappoint.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a stand out on this list. From the eighties nods to the geek jokes, I devoured that book. Anne Bishop’s Others series was a favorite of mine this year as well. I liked her take on supernatural creatures and want my hands on the last in that series yesterday. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles are absolutely fantastic.

I have marked some of my other favorites on the list with a *.

Best Reread: I only reread five books this year and three of them, the Tolkiens, were because we are reading them to the boys and only half count. I reread an old Garwood, The Bride, and Emma by Austen. Emma gets tedious in some of the middle bits because, while I love Emma Woodhouse, she needs to be shaken a couple times, so I would have to go with The Bride.

Other notes: If you read my monthly list, you will also see that I went on a bit of a non-fiction journey starting in May on the subject matter of the church and gay people. While I did have a conservative book, a rather large one, to balance my reading, I DNFed so it did not make the list. I felt I already had a solid handle on the conservative argument, so I wanted to read the other side of the coin.

I learned a lot and would highly recommend  to anyone God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines. I heard an interview on NPR with him, which is what sparked my journey, and found him to be passionate about God and the Bible. I knew I needed to read his book. Besides being wonderfully researched and well thought-out, it is a passionate plea for Christians to consider another biblical view. I loved it. I think everyone should read it. 

I also read a lot of dragon shifter books, because DRAGONS. They are like crack. I tried an erotic romance (not my first one) and I want to write a whole post on it, but if erotic romance is your thing, the Kit Rocha books are fantastic. Plus the ladies that write them are hilarious online.

The very last book on the list is an indication of things to come. Mr. Rochester has decided we are opening a brewpub and is dragging me along, pint in hand, with him. Enjoy the list!

 

January – 5
Unveiled by Courtney Milan
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Unlocked by Courtney Milan
Unclaimed by Courtney Milan
A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan

February – 3
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater*
Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha

March – 2
Written in Red by Anne Bishop
The Trouble With Magic by Patricia Rice

April – 6
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Cress by Marissa Mayer
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan
Proof of Seduction by Courtney Milan

May – 6
Hexed by Kevin Hearne*
Love Is An Orientation by Andrew Marin
Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church by Jack Rogers

June – 4
Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Eagle’s Honor: Banished by Sandra Schwab*
Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick

July – 6
Highland Fling by Amanda Scott
The Avalon Chronicles: Once in a Blue Moon by DeFillipis, Weir, and Vieceli
The Avalon Chronicles: the Girl and the Unicorn by DeFillipis, Weir, and Vieceli
The Bride by Julie Garwood (reread)
Emma by Jane Austin (reread)
Her Man of Affairs by Elizabeth Mansfield

August – 5
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins Through the Woods by Emily Carroll*
Laird Wolf by Vivian Arend
The Polaris Uprising by Jennifer Ibarra
Soul of Smoke by Caitlyn McFarland*

September – 7
Medusa, a love story by Sasha Summers
The Lilly Brand by Sandra Schwab*
Wilder’s Mate by Moira Rogers
It Started With a Scandal by Julie Anne Long
Shadow of Flame by Caitlyn McFarland
Burned (Dragos, book 1) by Amber Kallyn
Rocky Mountain Heat by Vivian Arend

October – 4
Scandal: a Regency Historical by Carolyn Jewel*
God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines
Rebel Mind by Olivia Dart (pre-release)
Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron*
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

November – 2
A Heartless Design by Elizabeth Cole
Lair of the Lion by Christine Feehan

December – 5
Dragon Fall by Katie MacAlister
Avatar of a Dream by Kai Mullins (pre-release)
At Blade’s Edge by Lauren Dane*
Truth of Embers by Caitlyn McFarland
Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope
The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery by Dick Cantwell