Review: “Outrun the Wind” by Elizabeth Tammi

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Title: Outrun the Wind
Author: Elizabeth Tammi
Publisher: Flux/North Star Editions
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
Rating: ⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | iBooks

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ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley.

 

 

Two girls caught between feuding twin gods reclaim their lives in this reconstruction of the Greek Atalanta myth by debut author Elizabeth Tammi.

The 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.

Growing up, I was a huge Greek mythology nerd, so I have a bit of a background, you could call it, on how the original myth goes. Basically, Atalanta, having participated in the Calydonian boar hunt, was rediscovered by her king father. He wanted to marry her off, but Atalanta doesn’t want to get married so she challenges her suitors to a footrace promising to marry any man who beats her. All goes well, with Atalanta remaining unbeaten until, lo and behold, Hippomenes, aided by Aphrodite (I swear these gods have nothing better to do other than meddle with humans) comes along, tricks her with some shiny golden apples, wins and marries her. The end. (Well, not really. The two go on and offend some other god, then are turned into a pair of lions as punishment. But you you don’t need to know that, so I’ll just stop there.)

This sticks to that storyline. Well, for the most part at least.

Outrun the Wind is more like a reconstruction of Atalanta’s myth with an ending that, personally speaking, makes more sense than the original story. Adding her own original characters and twists while still using the old Greek legend as foundation, debut author Elizabeth Tammi did not compromise her main characters’ – Atalanta’s and Kahina’s – core desires, and this is one of the things I appreciate the most in this story.

However, there were just a few points this book missed hitting.

The story mainly follows Atalanta and Kahina, a huntress of the goddess Artemis. Both character are easy to relate with, their struggles – being limited by the binds of convention – still resonating to many other young women in the real, modern world. As relatable as the two characters are though, I felt that they could have been explored more. It was hard to understand how they felt, what they’re thinking when they are so closed off. There was also this major shift in Atalanta’s character around the first third of the story. Gone was the fierce girl who wanted to prove herself, replaced by a defeated cut-out of her. It was an understandable change, but it just felt abrupt for me.

Another issue I had with this book is pacing. The opening chapter was awesome! The fight with the Calydonian Boar – the classic Greek hero quest – just draws you in, but the pace starts sagging right after Meleager’s death. It doesn’t pick up until the final showdown between the twin gods Apollo and Artemis, which is almost to the end of the story. I just kept on waiting for something to happen in between Atalanta’s escape from Artemis and her huntresses, and the footrace for her hand in marriage, but nothing. It just dragged on, with only a few bits thrown here and there to keep readers’ interest from completely waning.

The writing also took me out of the story. There was so much telling and not enough showing. It was so hard to get into when, on top of the story moving at a snail’s pace, you have to try so hard to make the world pop out of the words of the author. This frustrated me so much that by the time I finally finished all I felt was relief – relief that I’m finally done with it – which is, for me, not a good sign.

That said, I did enjoy Kahina and Atalanta’s relationship. It was slowburn, from enemies to reluctant allies to friends to lovers. It was obvious from the very start of the story that the two characters had a connection, but it was especially satisfying to read their progress and watch them grow closer and closer.

I can’t say the same for the rest of the book though.

Outrun the Wind was a promising story, but, sadly, that’s just what it is. Fans of re-tellings and Greek mythology may still find this enjoying. This just wasn’t for me.

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About the Author:

elizabeth tammiELIZABETH TAMMI was born in California and grew up in Florida, but is currently double-majoring in Creative Writing and Journalism as an undergraduate at Mercer University in Georgia. When she’s not writing, you can probably find Elizabeth at rehearsal for one of her vocal ensembles, or at work for her university’s newspaper and literary magazine. Her other interests include traveling, caffeinated beverages, and mythology. Outrun the Wind is her debut novel.

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First Line Fridays: “Outrun the Wind” by Elizabeth Tammi

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Happy Friday everyone! We made it another week!

I just finished Gina Apostol’s Insurrecto yesterday, and while I’m still working on my review for that one, let me share with you the first couple of lines of my next read.

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Atalanta

“The trees tremble, and it is not from the wind.

I clench my fist so my fingers don’t follow the trees’ example, and reach behind my back, pulling out an arrow and nocking it in a motion so practiced that I don’t need to take my eyes off the treeline. Sunlight glimmers like a jewel through the shifting leaves.”

 

Outrun the Wind sounds really interesting, being inspired by the goddess of the hunt, Artemis. I’m going to be starting on it today and I’m pretty excited to see how the story goes.

Outrun the Wind releases on November 27.

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Rachel

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Blog Tour + Review & Author Q&A:”I Do Not Trust You” by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

37638243Title: I Do Not TrusYou

Authors: Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: September 11, 2018

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2

Get it:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million | Powells

(ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley)

A teenaged girl and a young man become an uneasy allies as they set on an epic quest in writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz’s newest offering I Do Not Trust You.

Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can’t trust him.

Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?

I went into this book almost blind. It was my first time reading anything from Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns (not unless you count watching Roswell), so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. But this one surprised me in a good way.

I Do Not Trust You is what you will get if you throw Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider into a blender and add in a dash of The Mummy (the original one, okay, the one with Brendan Fraser). With an intriguing plot filled with adventure, danger, mysterious groups and vengeful ancient gods, this book will reel in readers from the first page up to its last.

The two main characters – Memphis, or simply “M” and Ash – are both bring different things into the story. M, having grown up in various archeological digs with her archeologist dad and doctor mom, have acquired an extraordinary knowledge of ancient history and dead languages. She’s awesome in a fight, too. Ash, meanwhile, brings in a bit more mystery into the story. A part of a cult worshipping the ancient Egyptian god Horus, he bankrolls their adventure and uses what he knows about the mythical god and his nemesis, Set.

It was interesting to read how M and Ash work together. They want different things with M wanting to rescue the father she thought had died in a plane crash and Ash being tasked by his group to retrieve an ancient map which points out where pieces of a mystical statue of Set are hidden. They start out forging an uneasy alliance out of necessity, but, by the end of the book, the two have earned each other’s trust.

The globe-trotting M and Ash’s duo undertook to retrieve the Set pieces was another aspect of the story that I loved. Oh! All those places! It was, essentially, a fun scavenger hunt. Still, the authors were able to incorporate bits of history and culture into the story’s narrative in a way that flowed well. It was just awesome!

The book had a couple of flaws, though. The way Memphis quickly puzzles together the clues they find is sometimes unbelievable. I get it, she grew up with an archeologist father and she does know her stuff. Still, I just find it too easy of a way out for both characters, though it does move the story. Also, that abrupt ending! I’m sure I won’t be alone in this opinion. It was sort of open-ended and it left me hanging.

Overall, I Do Not Trust You is an entertaining read. Readers will find adventure within the pages of this book by the truckload. I’d recommend this to YA fantasy and mythology fans.

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blog tour i do not trust you (1)

I was lucky to have a chance to ask Melinda Metz and Laura J. Burns about their new book I Do Not Trust You. Read on to find out what inspired them to write the ancient battle between Horus and Set, and how they work as co-authors.

Rachel: You’ve been writing as a duo for a long time now. How do you make it work with Laura living in New York & Melinda in North Carolina? Who writes what and so on?

Laura & Melinda: Even when we both lived in New York City, we’d mostly do our work together on the phone or over email. Because we’re lazy, is what we’re saying. We both prefer to stay at home and spend our days in pajamas.

We work out plots and character arcs in hours-long phone sessions. Once we have those, we take turns outlining. We’ll email the draft outline back and forth with notes to each other until we’re happy with it. (These days we use a shared document, because technology is good.) When one of us gets stumped, usually the other can fix the problem. After the outline is finished, we split it in half and each of us writes one half. Then we revise it, over and over, taking turns. The trick is that we decide in advance what the voice should be, how each character should sound. We know each other’s writing so well that we can match the tone pretty well, and anything that doesn’t match gets edited when we put it all together. Neither of us is precious about our writing–we are as comfortable changing each other’s words as we are changing our own. It all comes down to trust.

R: Your upcoming book involves some mythology, Egyptian mythology to be exact. What made you decide on weaving it into M’s and Ash’s story?

L & M: No lie, we attempt to weave Egyptian mythology into whatever we can! One of our earliest discoveries about each other was that we both loved the book The Egypt Game when we were kids. Usually, though, the stories we write don’t leave much room for Egypt. But this book was about a treasure hunt of sorts, and our minds immediately went to Egyptian artifacts. (Fortuitously, our editor is also an Egyptian mythology fangirl. One of the many things we love about her.) The Horus and Set story seemed a natural, since it involves the goddess Isis searching for the scattered pieces of her husband’s body the same way our characters were searching for scattered pieces of a statue.

R: Lastly, could you summarize your book using 3 emojis?

L & M:

🗺     ðŸ“œ     ðŸŒ‹

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About the authors:

LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for the TV shows Roswell, 1-800-Missing, and The Dead Zone. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

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Special thanks goes to Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz for giving me their time for this Q&A, and Brittani Hilles at St. Martin’s Press for helping me with this blog tour.